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nothing but talk of his horse ;7 and he makes it a great appropriation to his own good parts, that he can shoe him himself: I am much afraid, my lady his mother play'd false with a smith.
Ner. Then, is there the County Palatine, 8
Por. He doth nothing but frown; as who should say, An if you will not have me, choose : he hears merry tales, and smiles not: I fear, he will prove the weeping philosopher when he grows old, being so full of unmannerly sadness in his youth. I had rather be married to a death's head with a bone in his mouth, than to either of these. God defend me from these two!
7 Ay, that's a colt, indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of his horse ;] Colt is used for a witless, heady, gay youngster, whence the phrase used of an old man too juvenile, that he still retains his colt's tooth. See Henry vi.
there is the County Pulatine.] I am always inclined to believe, that Shakspeare has more allusion to particular facts and persons than his readers commonly suppose. The count here mentioned was, perhaps, Albertus Alasco, a Polish Palatine, who visited England in our author's life-time, was eagerly caressed, and splendidly entertained; but running in debt, at last stole away, and endeavoured to repair his fortune by enchantment. JOHNSON.
County and Count, in old language, were synonymous.- The Count Alasco was in London in 1583.
Ner. How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon ?
Por. God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man. In truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker: But, he! why, he hath a horse better than the Neapolitan's; a better bad habit of frowning than the count Palatine : he is every man in no man: if a throstle sing, 9 he falls strait a capering ; be will fence with his own shadow: if I should marry him, I should marry twenty husbands : if he should despise me, I would forgive him ; for if he love me to madness, I shall never requite him.
Ner. What say. you then to Faulconbridge, the young baron of England ?
Por. You know, I say nothing to him ; for he understands not me, nor I him : he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian ;' and you
9 —if a throstle sing, 8c.] Old copies--trassel. Corrected by Mr. Pope. The throstle is the thrush. The word occurs again in A Midsummer Nights Dream : “ The throstle with his note so true.”
MALONE. That the throstle is a distinct bird from the thrush, may be know from T. Newton's Herball to the Bible, quoted in a note on the foregoing passage in A Midsummer Night's Dream. STEEVENS.
- he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian ;] A satire on the ignorance of the young English travellers in our author's time. WARBURTON.
will come into the court and swear,2 that I have a poor penny-worth in the English. He is a proper man's picture;3 but, alas! who can converse with a dumb show? How oddly he is suited! I think, he bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behaviour every where.
Ner. What think you of the Scottish lord,4 his neighbour?
Por. That he hath a neighbourly charity in him ; for he borrowed a box of the ear of the Englishman, and swore he would pay him again, when he was able : I think, the Frenchman became his surety, and seald under for another,
-and you will come into the court, &c.] This, by some modern editors, has been altered to—may come into the court, &c.— Portia here supposes Nerissa to give evidence to this point upon oath, meaning thereby to express the positive certainty of it. E.
-a proper man's picture ; &c.] One of the senses of proper, in our author's time, was handsome. In Stowe's Survey of London, quarto, 1598, we meet with " faire
MALONE. -Scottish lord,] Scottish, which is in the quarto, was omitted in the first folio, for fear of giving offence to king James's countrymen. THEOBALD.
5 I think, the Frenchman became his surety,] Alluding to the constant assistance, or rather constant promises of assistance, that the French gave the Scots in their quarrels with the English. This alliance is bere humorously satirized. WARBURTON.
Ner. How like you the young German,6 the duke of Saxony's nephew ?
Por. Very vilely in the morning, when he is sober; and most vilely in the afternoon, when he is drunk : when he is best, he is a little worse than a man; and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast: an the worst fall that ever fell, I hope, I shall make shift to go without him.
Ner. If he should offer to choose, and choose the right casket, you should refuse to perform your father's will, if you should refuse to ac
Por. Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee, set a deep glass of Rhenish wine on the contrary casket; for, if the devil be within, and that temptation without, I know he will choose it. I will do any thing, Nerissa, ere I will be married to a spunge.
Ner. You need not fear, lady, the having any of these lords; they have acquainted me with their determination : which is, indeed, to return to their homes, and to trouble you with
6 How like
young German, &c.] In Shakspeare's time the duke of Bavaria visited London, and was made knight of the garter.
Perhaps in this enumeration of Portia's suitors, there may be some covert allusion to those of queen Elizabeth. JOHNSON.
no more suit; unless you may be won by some other sort than your father's imposition, depending on the caskets.
Por. If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as chaste as Diana, unless I be obtained by the manner of my father's will : I am glad this parcel of wooers are so reasonable ; for there is not one among them but I dote on his very absence, and I pray God grant them a fair departure.
Ner. Do you not remember, lady, in your father's time, a Venetian, a scholar, and a soldier, that came hither in company of the Marquis of Montferrat?
Por. Yes, yes, it was Bassanio; as I think, so was he call’d.
Ner. True, madam ; he, of all the men that ever my
upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.
Por. I remember him well; and I remember him worthy of thy praise.—How now! what news?
Enter a Servant. Serv. The four strangers seek for you, ma
7—and I pray God grant them a fair departure.] The folio reads:
-and I wish them a fair, &c.” The alteration was probably made in consequence of the stat. 3 Jac. I. cap. 21. MALONE.